The trust charged with raising $1.5 million to buy Trott’s Garden has a significant funding application pending and hopes for good news by the end of the year.
The award-winning gardens on Racecourse Road were created by Alan and Catherine Trott over 40 years ago and bought in 2017 by a group of philanthropists who wanted to preserve them for the community.
Buying the gardens from the current owners will allow the trust to develop a vision that will open them up to the community and bring in more visitors and users to ensure a long-term future.
Ideas discussed for increasing community use include an environmental education centre, community kitchen and adding natives and a vegetable-growing area at the venue.
Spokesperson Nicola Walker said the trust was now able to apply for a major grants because a third of the money needed for the project had been raised.
Funding from the Lion Foundation, Community Trust of Mid & South Canterbury and from a number of local supporters had backed the project to date.
She said exciting future developments at Trott’s were still at the planning stage and hinged on the gardens moving to full trust ownership.
Those plans had a growing number of supporters and people to draw upon to get involved.
“We’ve had verbal commitments from people and groups wanting to be involved and using future facilities, so the desire and need is definitely there.”
Mrs Walker said it had been a long process, but a business model and feasibility study made very strong cases for the project and showed funders the huge benefit the purchase would have for the community.
Both had been submitted to support the big funding application and the trust was “cautiously optimistic”, she said.
Mrs Walker attended a recent local food forest workshop and says the concept is one that trust is very keen to consider.
“You plan it, plant it and it largely takes care of itself. The concept has so many positive aspects to it.”
The 4ha Trott’s Garden property is home to 650 rhododendrons and has a main house and sheds.
It also has relocated chapel that is used for for weddings and an events marquee.
Its famous knot gardens were planned in 1990 and it is designated as a NZ Garden of International Significance.
-By Mick Jensen